Is there any city as cool as Chicago that has produced a legacy of such insignificant rock bands? I’m not talking about Chicago’s excellent R&B and Blues scenes, but rather the Windy City’s white-boy rock lineage.
Starting with the 1960’s, the Second City gave us such musical luminaries as The Shadows of Night, The Buckinghams (kind of a drag, indeed!), The Cryin’ Shames, New Colony Six, The Ides of March, and of course, Chicago. With the exception of Chicago (the band), the compete sum of the above mentioned bands’ hits could barely fill a Greatest Hits CD (believe me, I know my GH collections).
The 1970s gave us, if we consider the broad Chicago region, Styx, Cheap Trick, Shoes, Survivor, and that’s probably – thankfully – it. With the exception of the number of strings that a bass guitar can hold, none of these bands is going down in history as having changed anything.
The 1980s and 1990s gave us the likes of Ministry, Liz Phair, Big Black, Naked Raygun, Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, Material Issue, Wilco, and Green. With the exception of Wilco and Steve Albini as a producer and provacateur, these artists would not be included in anyone’s Rock Time Capsule.
Chicago is an awesome city – I lived there for most of the ’90s and witnessed firsthand the rise of the “Wicker Park scene.” Chicago is a magnet for anyone west of Cleveland and east of Iowa, so the city certainly makes up in quantity of bands what it lacks in quality, but none has the gravitas to be truly influential. Why then the suckage? Is it too good of a city? Are the people too nice? Is it tied to the curse of the billy goat? What do you think?